10 Quick and Easy Meals for Under $10 You Can Make for Dinner Tonight
Cooking takes time that many people simply don’t have. During the average day, those who prepare meals spend about 1.1 hours on food preparation and cleanup. Research conducted by the USDA found that working decreases the average amount of time spent in the kitchen. For working women, this time can be cut in half, with nonworking women spending just over 70 minutes per day preparing food. Women who work full-time spend between 38 and 46 minutes.
Between work, school, maybe kids, and taking a few moments to just relax, most people are left without the time or energy to be in the kitchen for several hours, following a difficult recipe. Eating out at a restaurant, picking up takeout, or even driving through a fast food line is sometimes an easier solution. These solutions are expensive, though, and not to mention potentially unhealthy. Frozen foods are also a go-to quick fix, but few if any frozen meals offer the quality that a home-cooked meal does.
Fortunately, there are other options that allow us to enjoy a home-cooked meal for a reasonable price and without the need to spend a significant amount of time on preparation. We scoured the Web for a few easy recipes that taste delicious and come with a price tag of under $10.
1. Cambell’s Orange Picante Chicken
This recipe from Cambell’s Kitchen received rave reviews — 4.7 out of five stars from 24 site users, and no one gave this recipe less than four stars. The main ingredient, boneless chicken breast, costs an average of $3.50 per pound. If you want to make this recipe even cheaper, you can swap bone-in chicken legs, as they have an average cost of only $1.55 per pound. The recipe takes 10 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to cook, for a total cook time of 30 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 2 cloves garlic
- Pace picante sauce
- Orange juice
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 cup regular long-grain white rice, prepared according to package directions (about 3 cups)
Directions: Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic to the skillet, and cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir the picante sauce, orange juice, and brown sugar in the skillet and heat to a boil. Return the chicken to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve the chicken and sauce with the rice.
2. Savvy Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp recipes can be delicious. Shrimp scampi is refreshing in the summertime and it provides a bit of gourmet flavor to any diet. With a prep time of only 10 minutes and a cook time of 10 minutes, this shrimp scampi recipe from Food Network is quick and easy. This meal comes with a price of around $9.
- 6 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ pound medium shrimp (21 to 25), peeled, deveined, and butterflied (reserve shells)
- ¼ onion
- ¾ pound thin linguine
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small bunch parsley, leaves chopped
Directions: In a bowl, combine the garlic, zest, and juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, to taste, and the shrimp. Set aside to marinate.
Meanwhile, make a quick shrimp stock: In a small pot, over medium heat, add the shrimp shells and onion. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into a bowl and discard the shells and the onion.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add a generous amount of salt. Add the linguini and cook until just tender, 2 minutes less than instructed on the package. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water.
Heat a skillet over high heat. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, reserve the marinade, and add the shrimp to the skillet. Cook until they turn pink and start to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan to a plate and add the reserved marinade. Let cook a few minutes, then add about 1 cup of shrimp stock and about 1/2 cup pasta water. Continue to cook until sauce reduces by half. Add the zest and juice of the remaining lemon, the butter, and the parsley and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Add in the shrimp and pasta and toss to combine with the sauce. Turn out into a serving bowl and serve immediately.
3. Quick Chili
You may have your own secret chili recipe, or you may try out different recipes each time you make it. However you get your chili on, it can always be a go-to quick and easy meal. With an average prep time of around 20 minutes, you can prep your chili and just let it sit in the crock pot all day on low heat. You can even prepare it the night before and place it into a large freezer bag. Then, when you’re ready to throw it in the pot, just pour it on in and let it cook. This meal will cost you around $8 to make.
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 (15-ounce) can of kidney beans
- ¹⁄8 onion, diced
- 2 diced tomatoes
- 2 (12-ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 1 package chili seasoning
Directions: Brown the ground beef and drain the excess fat. Stir in chili powder, tomato sauce, and kidney beans. Pour into the crock pot.
Add onions and tomato to taste. Cook in a crock pot on low for 4 to 6 hours. Serve plain, or with tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, and/or sour cream.
4. Easy Chicken Alfredo
This meal is incredibly quick and easy if you change the recipe just a bit. Using thinner noodles that cook faster, like angel hair pasta, will shave a few minutes from the cook time. Also, using a jar Alfredo sauce can save time and also money, as heavy cream can also be expensive. This recipe from All Recipes received rave reviews.
- 1 pound uncooked linguine (you can substitute angel hair pasta)
- 2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed
- 1 (4.5-ounce) can sliced mushrooms
- 1 (16-ounce) jar Alfredo-style pasta sauce
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
- ¹⁄3 cup milk
Directions: In a large pot, cook fettuccine or linguine pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add cubed cooked chicken, mushrooms, Alfredo sauce, frozen vegetables, and milk. Cook until heated through.
Serve warm Alfredo sauce over cooked fettuccine or linguine noodles.
5. Beer Can Chicken
Beer can chicken is not only a fun recipe, it’s easy and it comes with a prep time of about 10 minutes. It also requires only two main ingredients — a whole chicken and a can of beer — which costs around $8 combined. By placing an opened beer can inside of the chicken, all of the juices from the beer get inside it, making for a tender chicken. Here is a great beer can chicken recipe from the Food Network. This recipe uses the grill to cook the chicken, but you can also cook the chicken in the oven on 375 degrees Fahrenheit until the internal (thigh area) temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub
- 1 can beer
Directions: Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken lightly with oil, then rub inside and out with salt, pepper, and dry rub. Set aside.
Open beer can and take several gulps (make them big gulps so that the can is half full). Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can like a tripod.
Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e., no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast area and 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
6. Budget Meatloaf
Meatloaf is a classic meal. It’s on the weekly dinner menu for many American households, and even with lean ground beef currently priced high, at around $5.49 per pound, you can still make a great meatloaf dinner for less than $10. This recipe is from Cooking Light and was published on My Recipes; and it takes only around 30 minutes of your attention.
- ¹⁄3 cup chopped green onions
- 3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ¹⁄8 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 6 tablespoons ketchup, divided
- Cooking spray
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine first nine ingredients in a large bowl; add 1/4 cup ketchup. Mix beef mixture with hands just until combined. Shape beef mixture into a 9-by-4-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Brush top of meatloaf with remaining 2 tablespoons ketchup. Bake 7 additional minutes or until done. Slice loaf into eight equal pieces.
7. Worry-Free Pork BBQ
This is perhaps the easiest recipe on the list. It involves few ingredients, only a few minutes of prep time, and it’s delicious. Pork is expensive these days, but you can buy a decent-size pork loin and your favorite BBQ sauce for around $8 or $9. Add in some buns, and you have a quick and easy $10 meal. This recipe is from Wise Bread.
- 1 pork loin (a 5 pound loin is ideal)
- 1 jar of your favorite BBQ sauce
- Buns or bread of your choosing
Directions: Cut the tenderloin in half and place it in the crock pot. Pour BBQ sauce over the meat. Cook on low heat for at least 6 hours. When it’s done, meat will be tender and falling apart. Serve as sandwich.
8. Budget Gourmet Broccoli Slaw
This recipe is healthy, and for those looking for something on the lighter side, it’s a perfect choice. It received outstanding reviews from those who have tried and reviewed it, and you can make this recipe for 90 cents per serving for a total cost of around $7. My Recipes published this All You recipe; it’s a version of broccoli slaw that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
- 8 slices bacon
- 1 large head broccoli
- 1 small red onion, minced (1/2 cup)
- ¹⁄3 cup golden raisins
- ¹⁄3 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Salt and pepper
Directions: Cook bacon in a large skillet or on a griddle over medium heat until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Crumble into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
Cut florets from broccoli stems and chop into small pieces. Transfer to a salad bowl and toss with minced onion and raisins.
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and vinegar until smooth. Add honey, salt, and pepper, whisking to combine. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and toss to coat evenly. Crumble bacon pieces over broccoli slaw and serve immediately.
9. Price-Friendly Pasta Dish
If you’re looking for a quick and cheap pasta option, the key is to keep it simple. The fewer ingredients, the better. This rigatoni recipe is from Health and you can make it for just under $10.
- Rigatoni or penne pasta (16-ounce box)
- Lean ground beef (1 pound)
- 28-ounce can plum tomatoes
- Garlic (for the entire head)
Directions: Cook beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned; stir to crumble. Drain well. Combine beef, cooked rigatoni, tomatoes, and onion and garlic to taste. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. If you have some around the house, you can add mozzarella or Parmesan cheese on top.
10. Cost-Effective Casseroles
Casseroles are a great solution for someone who is in a hurry and on a budget. Some casseroles can even be made with leftovers, which makes them even more cost efficient. When you serve one of these creations, everyone can grab as much as they want, and serving time is just a little bit easier, as well.
Health published this recipe for a potato and broccoli casserole, which received great reviews, is easy to prepare, and comes with a cost of right around $10.
- Red potatoes (1 pound)
- Frozen broccoli (10 ounces)
- Low-fat milk
- Shredded low-fat cheddar (8 ounces)
- 15-ounce can bread crumbs
Directions: Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return potatoes and liquid to pan; mash with a potato masher until slightly chunky.
Steam 1 cup of broccoli, according to packaging instructions. Add broccoli and milk to pan; stir well. Spoon potato mixture into an 11-by-7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bread crumbs; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.